Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Drone Avionics Fix Incoming

The fix for the Drone Avionics skill has been tentatively scheduled for tomorrow's extended downtime, according to CCP RubberBAND. While this took longer than I would have liked to reach a conclusion, it seemed evident that the bug impacted characters in different ways, so it is understandable that it took them longer to sort through what happened.

They have already announced that tomorrow will be an extended downtime to fix bugs related to skills, so I'm assuming that this is confirming the date mentioned by CCP RubberBAND.

I'll be glad to regain access to my DLA2s again, so hopefully this fix tomorrow solves all of the problems.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Drone Avionics Bug with Crius 1.2

You might log in to EVE today to find that your Drone Avionics skill has decreased with the 1.2 patch that was released this morning. Here is what was supposed to happen:

In the Kronos release the required skill for Drone Link Augmenters was changed from Combat Drone Operation to Drone Avionics. This was done without ensuring that players who fulfilled the skill requirements of those modules would still do so after the change. In this patch we are bumping up the level of Drone Avionics for all players to the same level that they had Combat Drone Operation when we deployed Kronos. Players who have trained Drone Avionics in the meantime will be given unallocated skillpoints instead up to the amount that their skill would have been adjusted.
What happened instead is people found that their Drone Avionics decreased because of the split in Kronos that required you to only take your Scout OR Combat Drone Operation to 5, so Drone Avionics is now showing you your pre-Kronos Combat Drone Operation skill level. 

CCP RubberBAND has confirmed this bug and it is being investigated:

I have confirmed that the skill was incorrectly lowered for some players. It was meant to be a bump. Currently under investigation and added to the known issues.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crius Aftermath

Crius dropped yesterday, bringing a ton of new industry changes and bringing a lot of uncertainty as to how the markets would react to all of the changes. Already, the issues have been piling up and CCP already released Crius 1.1 today to fix several bugs that have popped up.

The EVE Online forums have been swamped with new posts about the industry changes. Usually, they're complaining posts or reporting unusual activity in the industry interface.

Apparently, there was a gold rush for moon spots in the high security systems that opened up with Crius. There are allegedly hundreds of moons that have been taken by anchored small towers with tags saying that they are all for sale.

Industrial activities taking place in systems for the first time have also been causing problems with the new "system cost index", which was particularly troubling for those in wormholes conducting industry for the first time. This was apparently fixed with the patch today, but I haven't heard whether or not it has been fixed.

I took a quick look at market prices to see what is going on. I'm pleased to report that the average fuel block prices have not changed too significantly, although Caldari fuel blocks seem to be having the most changes right now. The average price of small Caldari Control Towers has also spiked over the past two days, probably reflecting an increase in demand for research POSes. It looks like the medium and large variants have not had any impact on their prices.

Third party applications such as EVE Isk Per Hour (IPH) have not yet been updated to Crius, rendering them fairly useless for the time being. I have read that IPH is in the process of being updated. As you can imagine, with all of the Crius changes it will probably take a while to finish doing the updates.

It'll probably take a while for things to settle down, but hopefully everyone has been enjoying the industry changes so far. I know that I'm personally looking forward to trying out all of the new changes, just as soon as my character finishes training those T2 skills!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Crius is Here!

Well, this morning around 10:00 EVE time I was up for work and decided to patch my client for Crius before leaving so that I wouldn't have to do it when I got home. Luckily, it's been deployed without a hitch so hopefully there are tons of people excited about the changes to industry. I bet there's a bit of a race right now for people clamoring to get the best moons in high-sec systems that you couldn't previously anchor POSes in.

One issue right off the bat is that blueprints locked in containers cannot be used for industry, so this bug could be affecting some people. This is not the only bug right now, so if you have issues, be sure to check out the Crius Issues thread.

The corporation that my wormhole alt is in, The Wakizashi, is both a wormhole and industry corp. Therefore, Crius should be a big change for everyone in the corp. Additionally, my manufacturing alt is still training up the skills required for T2 production. At 10 million ISK per skill book, I have quite a bit of ISK to spend to be able to even produce a decent variety of T2 items. Nonetheless, I'll be looking forward to starting manufacturing with her. Hopefully I'll be able to get a better handle on whether or not to move forward with a POS or do manufacturing and research in a station. I do have a POS already anchored so finding a free moon won't be an issue unless I feel like moving.

Either way, I'm excited to see what changes Crius brings to the market. Hopefully you're prepared and ready to hit the ground running!

POS Bashing Ishtars

This past weekend I was heading down one of our chains to fix up the bookmarks when I ended up in the last system in the chain. I hit d-scan out of habit, like usual, and saw 2 Ishtars with the same name pop up. I wondered if they were at a POS, since only one planet was within d-scan range and I did see an active tower with a force field on d-scan also.

I warped to the tower and ended up being over 200km off the POS. But interestingly, the Ishtars were even further away and had Bouncer IIs out. What? Were they not inside of the force field but outside? Are they bashing the POS? I started slowboating into range and called out on comms asking if anyone was interested in ganking a pair of Ishtars.

As I was moving into range, a fleet formed up and headed to one jump out. We managed to get a cloaky Proteus into the system and I was able to provide a cloaky warp-in for him. As he was warping to me, he uncloaked and gave the order for everyone else to jump through and charge for the wormhole that I was in.

Almost immediately, I saw the Ishtars begin aligning and they warped away to a safe somewhere. As it turns out, this POS bashing multi-boxer had another alt in the low-sec system leading into the wormhole and either he saw local spike or his alt was cloaked on the hole and saw our guys warping to it. Either way, he laughed in local and ended up safe.

Now, interestingly, he missed my covops and a corpmate's cloaky Proteus getting into the system. If we would have had a cloaky fleet, we probably would have gotten the drop on him. This is especially true as he wasn't watching d-scan in the hole. I decided to try to scare him off and troll him by dropping combats and scanning him down. I lazily did it with multiple passes and he never noticed. As I was leaving to head back to our home system, he said something in Russian in local that roughly translated to "finally heading home?"

Although we got outsmarted by the extra careful guy with eyes both in the hole and outside of it, I was happy that I generated a bit of content on an otherwise quiet afternoon, even if we didn't get the kill. Had we had a wormhole to wormhole connection into that system, he would never have seen us coming. I hate local! Still, finding us a gank was a lot of fun. Hopefully I'll be able to find more in the future.

Note to self: I need to fit a point on my covops so I can hero tackle the next time I find someone. T3s and their delay when uncloaking means that someone paying close enough attention can get away.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Analysis: Investing in PLEX

As promised to Kirith, this post will be investigating the use of PLEX as an investment vehicle. I find this to be an interesting topic as I have read other bloggers, like croda, are using PLEX as a cash sink when they have too much ISK to use in their daily activities.

Let us start with the usual caveat that my results are based on the validity of the data that I am using. I am using EVE Market Data, and I have no reason to believe that the information isn't solid (unless you guys tell me otherwise).

On Friday, I analyzed the recent increases in PLEX prices and attributed it to a number of factors, including suppliers declining at a faster rate than buyers and market correction. There is no doubt that if you invested in PLEX as early as a few months ago, you have earned a tidy profit thanks to the rising PLEX prices. It is clear in the graph above that PLEX prices have historically been trending upwards since 2009 at least, as that is the earliest data that I can collect.

One of the things that stands out to me immediately is that there is evidence of recurring seasonal variation in the historical PLEX prices. Indeed, approximately every 6 months, PLEX prices spike and settle back down again. If you take a look at the dates, the spike in PLEX prices coincides with the release of previous expansions (in November and May, generally). However, after the expansion, things settle down and prices fall, often lower than what they were just prior to the expansion. For an example, let us take a look at the period from November 2012 to November 2013.

This time period is a great example of the seasonal impact of expansions on PLEX prices. If you purchased PLEX in November of 2012, you will have made a loss selling it at any point prior to November 2013 (maybe late October, if you were lucky). In this case, you can see that the mid-year expansion in May did not have enough of an impact to bump prices up above the levels in November 2012.

Now investing in real life is important because of inflation. A dollar that you had a year ago does not have the same value today because prices have been increasing across all commodities that you buy. Therefore, people choose to invest idle money so that their money grows and hopefully matches or outpaces inflation. In EVE, there is no inflation built into the system. Rewards from missions and selling blue loot to NPCs always gives the same amount of ISK, and prices for manufactured items tend not to find themselves constantly rising unless forced to by external factors (like a CCP expansion).

So the question is, why do people in EVE feel the need to invest? For one, idle money isn't growing. If you're a trader or manufacturer, you put ISK into buying goods that you turn around and sell at a higher value. In this type of situation, your ISK is making you more ISK based on what you're doing with it. So I'm guessing that people who are used to taking a certain amount of ISK and making more ISK with it don't like the idea of having just sitting ISK. I know as a trader myself that ISK sitting in my wallet is not earning me any money, and therefore that is a waste.

Now, to the topic of using PLEX as an investment vehicle. PLEX is one of the few items (that I can tell) that has seen such a pronounced upwards trend in price. As a result, it has been a fairly safe long-term investment for anyone willing to hold on to it for a long enough period of time. Additionally, since it is so expensive to purchase, it can quickly eat up that idle ISK, which I imagine makes the process of getting rid of idle ISK quite easy.

My main concern about PLEX prices now with regards to investment is that since CCP has switched to the 10 expansions a year release cycle instead of 2, we are not likely to see major spikes in PLEX prices around expansions like we previously did. Take a look at the small increase in the price of PLEX in May of 2012 and this is the type of modest increase we might be seeing in the future.

If I were a PLEX investor, I'd be concerned about the new release cycle from CCP. The lack of big expansions bringing in a bunch of people to the game (and therefore driving demand for PLEX up bringing prices along with it) means that PLEX prices might just stabilize in the not too distant future. As I mentioned in my last post, I believe that PLEX prices will still be increasing in the short run as the market equilibrates. After that, however, it's possible that the new release cycle will flatten price changes in PLEX. If true, this will mean that anyone buying PLEX in the short to medium run could be finding themselves losing ISK as opposed to gaining ISK.

Now, to finish off this blog post, let's take a look at the current state of affairs leading up to the release of Crius, that will be happening tomorrow at downtime.

It's pretty clear that over the past three weeks, PLEX prices have been steadily increasing. With the imminent release of Crius, it's possible that people are buying PLEX to keep a supply of ISK steady and stable because they're not sure what is going to happen to the prices of manufactured items.

Interestingly, however, there are no prominent changes in demand or supply, meaning that the current spike in prices is happening due to speculation rather than market forces. This shows you the pure power of speculation on prices in the PLEX market, which would also concern me if I were a PLEX investor as the same type of speculation can swing prices downwards, too.

All in all, PLEX has been a solid choice for investing ISK over the past several years as long as you were willing to wait and hold onto them before selling. Now, with the changes to the release cycle of expansions, the impact on the PLEX market might not be as noticeable as it was before. For small expansions with little to no new content, we could see stable or declining PLEX prices as opposed to spiking PLEX prices that we observed before. Ultimately, PLEX investors had better be keeping a finger on the pulse of the market, because the status quo before has been shaken up thanks to CCP, and that is going to affect the bottom line.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Analysis: PLEX Prices

Recently quite a few people have been talking about the spike in PLEX prices, reaching a high of around 810 million Jita sell a few days ago. Kirith and Gevlon have recently analyzed the PLEX prices and player activity, respectively. Kirith's belief is that demand and supply have fallen; Gevlon believes only supply has fallen.

The truth is, both supply and demand have fallen but not at equal rates. Now as some of you may know, I am an economist in real life and my area of specialty is trade. After reading those two blog posts above, I decided to pull the data and do a miniature analysis of PLEX prices. I pulled the last year of PLEX data from EVE Market Data. The usual caveat about the analysis applies; it's only as good as the data, so I'm assuming that the data is relatively sound. 

A cursory look at the quantity versus the number of orders over time shows that both the supply and demand have fallen over the past year. Also, interestingly, the supply is always higher than the demand. This has implications for the market that I will discuss later.

It's abundantly clear after applying a simple linear trend to the data that the supply of PLEX has fallen at a faster rate over the past year than the demand for PLEX. If you have taken a first year economics course at any university, you will know that supply falling faster than demand will increase the price of the good. However, you should also know that if we are at a point where there is more supply than demand, there should be downward pressure on the price of the good. So, we have two opposing market forces at work here. What do we observe happening in reality?

The average PLEX price has been steadily increasing over time. However, the gap between supply and demand has also been decreasing over the past year and has simultaneously become less volatile. So, what's been going on in the PLEX market? This is market correction happening in front of our eyes. We have a case of the market being outside of equilibrium. Luckily, the price impact of the decrease in PLEX suppliers has been off set by the fact that we have more PLEX supply than demand in the game. While the price has still been increasing, the fact that demand is less than supply means that we aren't seeing higher spikes in PLEX prices. In fact, the current PLEX spike is less than it would be if there were less PLEX suppliers in the market.

The (sort of) good news is that with the declining gap between suppliers and buyers, we will reach an equilibrium in the market at higher prices and a lower overall supply. An equilibrium in the market would mean that prices would stabilize, albeit at a higher price than they are at now. The bad news is that if the number of suppliers continues to decrease after reaching that equilibrium, we're going to see much higher spikes in PLEX prices in the future. If we continue on our current trend, we could be seeing PLEX prices at 1 billion ISK in one year from now. We don't know how long it will take for the market to stabilize. Only time will tell.

Crius is Coming

Crius is just a few days away now and CCP has released a final dev blog to go over all of the changes that have made it into the release, and also to go over all of the things they talked about but decided not to add to the release at this time.

This release is set to really shake up industry with the removal of slots, the removal of the standings requirement to anchor POSes, "teams" that bring buffs, and a rework of the ME and TE (previously PE) system.

For those of you who are interested in industry but might be confused about the changes or want a good overview from someone who knows industry well, EVE University member Tinman Spectacular will be holding a class on all things Crius on Monday July 21st at 00:00 (Sunday night for those in the Americas).

Here's a quick bio on Tinman:

I'm a former producer whose made everything from frigates to dreadnoughts, and a lot of stuff in between. I've made mistakes, I've made enemies, and I've made my fair share of billions. My lines were shut down about a year ago, my star-bases shuttered (except for the high-sec POS I gave away), and my blueprints were all packed away. With the industry changes coming I found renewed energy and enthusiasm for all things Industry, and have spent a great deal of time preparing for next week when I plan to jump head first back into production. See you there!

Finally, there is still some work to be done reworking the old Material Efficiency skill, which is being renamed to Advanced Industry in Crius and is changing from reducing the materials requirements for production to something else. What is that something else, you ask? Well, it's still in the air. Right now it's a slight time reduction but the community and now CCP Greyscale think that we can do better. If you have an opinion for the skill, be sure to check out the threadnought on the EVE Online forums.

My manufacturing alt has been cooking for some time now. I'm now at the point where she basically only needs to train the specific skills required for T2 production. That means that I'll be able to dive into T2 production soon after Crius lands, but after the initial shock that the market is going to have as it adjusts to the Crius changes. Yes, I am predicting a shock to the market when Crius releases as manufacturers adjust their supply chains and prices to account for the changes to installation costs all around EVE. Also, some manufacturers who used to build T2 items in a POS might now manufacture in a station at slower speeds (as to not risk their BPOs), and that could mean less supply for some T2 items in the short run. Again, I'm expecting there to be a shock but it will stabilize with time as everyone becomes more comfortable with the Crius changes.

All in all, I'm looking forward to the changes and I'm excited to get my industry alt started in the new environment that Crius will bring.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Efficient Site Running

One of our fellow campus members has recently started up a topic on running sites efficiently, using a doctrine from a fellow blogger. This has to do with blitzing C3 combat anomalies by using a single T1 logi, a recon ship (for target painting), and a few attack battlecruisers.

Anyone reading that doctrine might think that it's just plain old silly. However, we have been testing it in our C3 statics and as it turns out, it works fairly well.

The difference between this doctrine and normal site running is that you can do this with relatively few people, as long as you have people that can fly the necessary ships. Because you're using ABCs, the recon ship with the target painter and the webs is necessary to allow the ABCs to hit the frigates. This is good news for wormhole corps that have relatively few people, or have time zones that are under represented.

The other difference is that this doctrine requires paying much more attention than normal site running. It has been very important to keep transversals up against battleships especially, and more than one battleship can tend to cause a bit of a problem without transversal going. Two battleships is okay, three battleships is probably too much. You'll also want your Scythe pilot to have Minmatar Cruiser 4 at a minimum, as 3 seemed to be cutting it too close. Further, the logistics drones are a key part of this doctrine and need to be utilized, especially with only one logi.

Now, I suspect that if you get jumped with this doctrine, you're pretty much toast. The ships do not have points on them, and the recon is the only ship with webs. If your attackers were stupid enough to come in at range, you might be able to blap them before they get to you. But if a Proteus decloaks right next to the ABCs, you can probably kiss your ships goodbye.

All in all, this doctrine has proven itself to be quite useful. I've been training up my Minmatar cruiser skills so that I can fly the Scythe for this doctrine whenever necessary. Also, the sites do tend to go quickly with the high DPS of the ABCs, so that's another bonus. This is definitely worth a shot for any new wormhole corps out there.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Friends in Need

EVE University's campuses are distinct and spread out. We have a campus in high-sec Amarr (mining), a campus in high-sec Solitude, a campus in low-sec Placid, a campus in null-sec Syndicate, and a campus in wormhole space. Each campus has separate management, separate requirements for joining, and a separate community.

However, the campuses within the University are like a family and no matter how spread out they are, if one campus needs help the other campuses will be there to pitch in a hand.

A little while back, RvB (the two corporations always at war) decided to team up and war dec the Uni, setting up a staging area within Aldrat, our HQ system. Campus members poured out of the woodwork, swarming Aldrat with highly skilled PvP pilots and FCs that were ready to take on what RvB brought to us.

Now, there's word that one of our sister campuses needs help in their local area. The other campuses are voting overwhelmingly in support of deploying to the region to help out. Indeed, logistics and doctrines are already underway in preparation.

These deployments are incredibly fun. I had such a fantastic time during the RvB war. I had never PvPed prior to that, and the experience of being in a fleet taking on another fleet gave me the confidence I needed to start engaging in more PvP. I cannot emphasize enough the amount of fun and content that these deployments can generate. I always encourage our newbies to come out and join these engagements, even if they're flying a tackle or EWAR frigate.

There is also another lesson to be learned here, and that's the power of having good relationships with those around you. By showing up to help a fellow campus (or friendly corp, or alliance, or just a capsuleer), you build goodwill with them. You can rest assured that the next time you're in need of assistance, the people that you have helped will remember how you helped them and come running. More than once I have read blogs by others where their corporation was aided by friendly corporations that they have taken the time to develop relationships with. It's important to grow these relationships wherever possible.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Are Watchlists Too Powerful?

I saw an interesting post on the forums with a suggestion regarding limiting the usefulness of watchlists. Here is part of his argument:

Watchlisting is one of the most used and easy intel assets at the moment. People just have to put you on watchlist and provide free and easy instant intel. There are alliances that have every single Super and Titan-pilot watchlisted and it makes it almost impossible nowadays to log in a SUPER or Titan pilot without the enemy instantly knowing it. This makes boring game play and prevents covert CAPITAL operations. This will also generate big-bloc power projection since nobody wants to fly his Super or Titan with smaller Alliances because they know that big blocs like Pandemic Legion have them watchlisted and will hunt them down as soon as they log in. So there is only one choice left and that is to join a big bloc or loose your Super to them because they have you watchlisted.

I find this to be a reasonable and interesting argument. I don't know much about the importance of super capitals or titans in sov-null space, but it seems to me that the watch system does provide a large amount of intel for free.

Personally, I don't use watchlists very often. If I need to interact with someone in my corp, I can add them to my watchlist when I see them online. Otherwise, it tends to collect dust. Some people use watchlists for tracking war targets or knowing when one of them is online. I don't bother with this; I'm a wormhole dweller, the risk of non-consensual PvP is natural to me.

The OP went on to suggest that a new feature be added where you personally need to approve someone adding you to their watchlist. I'd say a nicer solution might be that someone with positive, non-neutral standings should be able to watch list you. This would cover your friends, corp mates, anyone you, your corp, or alliance deems decent enough to turn blue. I'd almost suggest extending this to war decs (i.e., once you war dec an alliance or corp, both sides can watchlist each other). The flip side to this is that maybe the power blocs will perma-dec corporations with super or titan pilots in them so they can continue to watchlist them.

I'm in favour of some method of reducing the usefulness of watchlists, since they are free. Another option would be an ability to bribe locator agents so that they sometimes give the wrong location to anyone inquiring about your location. Perhaps incorporate standings to this, and a sliding scale of probability that interacts with the amount you bribe them with, plus your standings. Maybe older pilots also have a multiplier that means they need to pay more to achieve the same probability as a newer player paying the same amount, with the same standings. Of course, CCP could keep this probability hidden and bounded strictly less than one so that even if you pay billions of ISK, there's a chance that the locator agent will still tell them your true location.

Definitely an interesting topic. If you have ideas, feel free to chime in!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

First Time Logi Bro

"Guys, my ship is on fire."

I logged on to Jeff today and saw that our fleet only had a few people in it. Immediately, I heard "Jeff, can you fly an Exequror? PvP in Z2!" Luckily, I had previously trained a bunch of T1 logistics skills in the past and I had always wanted an opportunity to try it out. I grabbed an Exequror out of the communal POS and warped to the Z1 hole, waiting for my logi bro to join me. As we were forming up, I listened to the fact that they had found some active people two wormholes away and it seemed like they were itching for a fight. There was even a Loki hiding on the other side of the hole that almost caught my logi bro as he was heading back to grab his Exequror.

The plan was simple: we'd wait on the Z2 hole in Z1 and wait for the fight to come to us. They'd be polarized if they jumped back through to their home hole (Z2) while we could follow them and extract easily if necessary. We set up with two DD and two logi and waited for the fight to come. Unfortunately, it didn't. As another DD came into Mumble and joined us, our FC decided it was worth it to bait them by going into their hole and start shooting at their Hurricane Fleet Issue while the logi waited on the other side of the hole. They took the the fight and followed through when our DD jumped back into Z1.

This ended up being quite a long fight. We ended up fighting them in Z1 and continued the fight on the other side of the hole. As they approached low armor, they came back to our side for repairs. There was a lot of jumping back and forth. In the end, we ended up killing three Hurricane Fleet Issues, an Exequror Navy Issue, a Gila and someone's pod. In total, we ended up killing over 1 billion ISK in ships and fittings.

For my first time as a logi bro, I think I didn't do too bad. We sat far off the hole, kept everyone alive and ended up with a bunch of good fights in local. I think now I might have been bitten by the logi bug. I've gathered some skill books for Amarr ships so I can fly the Augoror in the future. Maybe T2 logi will be in my future!